Thursday, August 4, 2011

Perdido Key, Florida

We weren't planning on taking a vacation this summer. Our two youngest children's car-riding skills had worn us out, so instead I booked July with plenty of camps and classes to keep the kids busy. But then my family decided they were all going to Florida (specifically Perdido Key, our typical beach destination as a family) together. Of course, I didn't want to miss out! Although they all headed down on Saturday, we didn't head out until Tuesday night after a couple of the kids' already paid-for activities were completed. We planned on leaving at 6, as soon as Dash's class was over. However, it was more like 8:30 when we were on our way.

Our plan was for Ryan to drive until he got tired - probably around midnight, then find a hotel and finish the rest of the 10 hour drive the next day. We told my family to expect us around 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Except I'd barely peek an eye open around 1 a.m., 2 a.m., etc. to discover Ryan was still driving. We'd talk a little, he'd assure me he was wide awake, then I'd snooze a little more while he got back to the audiobooks he was captivated with (the John Carter from Mars series). When I peeked at the dashboard clock at 3:30 p.m., I smiled over at him, knowing, "That stinker is going to drive the whole way!" It really was pretty nice with the kids sleeping soundly in the back.

We made it to the Pensacola area around 6:45, just in time for the kids to wake up and make a gas station/restroom stop. They were so excited, obviously, to discover the change in plans. We didn't know exactly what to do, though, because we couldn't check into our condo until later that day. And we didn't want to wake up my family by calling. We found a public parking spot near (but actually not that near) my family's condo, changed into our bathing suits in the car, and walked down the beach.

Tornado, above, made about 10 of these stops during our walk. All he ever really wants to do at the ocean is play in the sand. We'd have to keep ushering him on down the beach, or he would have found a spot to plop down and stayed there all day.

I told him the story of going to the beach when he was really little. The whole way he chanted, "Go beach! Beach!" We felt terrible when we arrived after dark. So I decided to walk down to the ocean with him, anyway, to reward his patience/excitement. We walked off the boardwalk, and he plopped right down in the sand. I tried to tell him we weren't really at the beach/ocean yet, and we should keep walking. But he felt sand, and he was content.

Dash, on the other hand, wasted no time jumping headfirst into the waves. We had kind of told them we weren't going to get wet yet in case we were going to go inside the condo. And it wasn't really that warm out yet. That kid.

I finally texted my Mom around 7:30 a.m. and told them we were getting ready to leave our hotel and get on the road soon, etc. She asked where we were. I told her to look out her balcony. This is part of the crew greeting us from their 14th floor room.

My husband still looks HOT after spending a whole night driving!

The 4 bedroom condo my family stayed in - Indigo - was very nice, and it had the best pools of any place we've ever stayed in Florida. We had gotten a 2 bedroom condo at Caribbean East, which was just a couple of buildings away - an easy walk or drive over to theirs. Being the Super 8/Econo Lodge-staying people that we are, we felt majorly extravagant with such accommodations and space.

We got to spend all day Wednesday through check out on Saturday morning. Here are some of the pictures of our fun time with our family of 18:

We didn't even plan the girls' coordinating bathing suits.

We loved the shallow end of the pool for the kids.

Aunt Tracy

Cousin C



Cousin G

Tornado was special buddies this week with his 2 year old boy cousins. They liked to slide down the little sandy hills over and over again.

Cousin P

These two (Dash and Cousin O) are great pals and very brave in the water together.

Daddy and Dash, riding the waves in. I think there is no better vacation for my 6 year old; he would live at the beach if he could. He made great improvements in his swimming abilities this week. On the way home, he asked if we could go to Wild River Country (our local water park) the next day.

Cousin R

last night on the beach pictures

my kids with Papaw

My birthday happened this week. We enjoyed a great meal together in my family's condo, complete with chocolate mousse pies. (As usual, I wrote about the food on our trip on my other blog.) I was gifted with sweet, wonderful presents, and my birthday wish of playing Catch Phrase with the adults (after the kids went to sleep) was fulfilled.

We wished we could stay a few more days. Check-out time seemed to come too quickly.

Though it isn't entirely my story to becomes my story as it involves 4 of my most important people. Not too far into our drive home, my mom called (hysterical) because my sister Cary (driving her family) was in a wreck. Their tire blew, and control was lost. They flipped several times, across both lanes of traffic, the median, and both lanes of oncoming traffic, onto the far opposite shoulder. It was the understanding that Cary and the kids were okay, but Andy (my brother-in-law) was bleeding from the head and would be taken by ambulance to the ER. As the other 3 cars in our caravan, which were all separated by 1-4 hours each, became determined to make it to the hospital in Mississippi, apparently all four of them were taken in 2 different ambulances. I sort of sat in a trance in the car, no longer able to read my books...because by then, who cares about the four seasons of marriage or Shania Twain's career in music when my little sister, her partner in life, and these two 3 ft. tall chunks of my heart are scared/injured/in danger. It made us all just SICK, thinking about them rolling in their car - and what COULD have happened.

This was sort of the scene when we finally made it to the hospital. Over ten days later, my (very pretty when not experiencing a concussion while being strapped to a backboard) sister still isn't feeling back to normal. Her corneas were scratched, she's sore, and she's reeling from the after-effects of her concussion. (If you haven't read any of her thoughts about it, here are some.)

My brother-in-law (also very handsome when his face isn't scraped up and smooshed together by this headdress) is feeling better, but his head will not be back to normal for awhile. (He was kind of scalped.)

This was one of those moments when we were faced with the reality of how fragile and fleeting our earth lives are. Because it was one of those accidents when onlookers and doctors called it a miracle that the outcome wasn't worse. I can't say that it makes me live in fear or anything. But I do want my hug to Ryan when he gets home from his long drive (in rush hour traffic on the interstate) to linger a little bit longer now. Ya know?


I'm GRATEFUL today that #366 - I have so many people in my life to love, #367 - my niece and nephew are young enough to forget about their experience in this wreck, #368 - my sister and Andy were able to walk out of the ER on their own, #369 - there are such a thing as beaches and the ocean, #370 - Ryan has vacation days, #371 - Ryan's job allows us to afford vacations, #372 - my parents want to spend beach vacations with their family, #373 - we had a fun evening at Wild River Country last night, #374 - there are a couple of weeks left of summer vacation, and #375 - there are 4 year old and 6 year old giggles taking place right now in and out of my bedcovers.


Annette W. said...

It may have taken you a while to share all of that, but it was well worth the wait. So thankful for God's protection on Cary and family!

Happy birthday, dear friend...definitely a bit late. (So we both have July birthdays...but I don't remember how old you are.)

And I LOVE Catch Phrase!

dirtyduck said...

omgosh thats a bad accident, across both lanes? thank God everyone is ok. what an ending to your vacation.

i dont know how to switch to lighter notes, but Happy Birthday to you! and i am so glad everything turned out ok


i always think walter looks hot when hes all tired too:)

The Shenandoah Vegan said...

It does sound like a miracle they all survived with minor injuries. I didn't know a tire blowout could cause such a thing to happen. Glad everyone had good medical care and are healing up. Now you need another vacation!

Karie said...

What a great vacation!!! So glad that your sister and her family are all okay . . . what a tragic event that could have had just more terrible results! Praise The Lord for not allowing an even more tragic end! Miss you :)

JJHB said...

Wow! You all had a terrible scare. So thankful God was watching over your sister and her family.

Great family picture of you all. Happy birthday Jenny. Hope to see you guys soon.